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NFL Week 2 Monday Night Football: 2nd Most Compelling Value of Week

New York Jets +7.5 (-135) @ Indianapolis Colts

Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana

September 21, 8:30pm EDT

Enamored with the extremely robust methodology that underlies ESPN's newly launched NFL FPI statistic, we have adopted this metric as the primary power rankings methodology in our stable. By this number, the New York Jets are the biggest gainers this week, improving from #25 to #16 on the back of their cover as 3.5 point underdogs and decisive outright victory over the visiting Cleveland Browns in week 1.

Jets QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick's 179 passing yards, which included 2 TDs (to 1 interception) was good enough to land him at #11 on the QBR list for week 1. Brandon Marshall led Jets receivers with 6 catches and a TD. Marshall also submitted the play of the game, which came after Fitzpatrick was intercepted by Browns FS Tashaun Gipson while trying to connect with Marshall. The Jets WR ripped the ball away from Gipson and scurried forward to the Cleveland 9, setting up teammate Chris Ivory for a touchdown run to cap the drive. Ivory finished with 91 yard on 20 carries, and 2 touchdowns.

The Colts managed to hold onto the #4 spot in the FPI rankings entering week 2, despite getting rolled by the new-look Buffalo Bills last Sunday. This development though probably owes more to the the play of lower ranked teams than to Indy's enduring strength. To wit, the average change in FPI this week for teams ranked 5-32 was -0.2. Further, 18 teams lost ground by this measure last week.

Colts QB Andrew Luck was particularly inaccurate in week 1, completing only 26 or 49 attempts, versus averages of better than 60% in the prior two seasons. And while the 5th year Stanford man did connect with Indianapolis receivers twice for touchdowns, he also threw two interceptions. Resultantly, Luck landed in the #22 spot in last week's QBR ranking.

Indianapolis' ground attack, spearheaded by Frank Gore, was equally lackluster. The Colts logged only 64 rushing yards in aggregate. Reflective of their all-around poor play, FPI's assessment of Indy's week 2 advantage over an average team declined by 0.7 to 4.8 points.

Heading into the week 2, FPI gives the Jets a slight edge versus the number. This signal is meaningfully bolstered though by corroborating indications from four other inputs into our broader power rankings composite. In fact, all power rankings factors we monitor are in agreement that the Jets should cover versus the Colts.

Similarly, our favorite simulation routine likewise highlights 4 points of value to Jets-backers (our other primary sim methodology calls this game a push).

Sentiment too is registering extreme optimism in the favor of the Colts, which we regard as yet another support for a play on the Jets (Paul & Weinbach (2010) show betting against public sentiment to be statistically profitable for the National Football League pointspread market).

Bottom line: If the Niners @ the Steelers represents our marquee call for week 2, the Jets at the Colts is a strong runner-up for favorite game honors (from a bettor's perspective). Every quantitative measure that we follow, save one, supports New York -- and the one outlier is an abstention rather than dissension.

If we were to nitpick, we could point to the change in the betting line (a full point Indy's way) as casting a pall on our pick, however, this move might merely be the manifestation of the public's preference for the Colts. A tightening of the betting line as kickoff approaches would alleviate this minor anxiety, but given the vast agreement among the tools in our chest, we are quite comfortable right now in the same seat on the Jets bandwagon we held last week.

Happy betting!!

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